|January 11||OPEYE / Vinny Golia, with George Cremaschi and Garth Powell.|
|January 18||the DTs: Dan Lederer and Tim Bolling / Oluyemi Thomas and Spirit|
|January 25||Jack Wright with Matthew Sperry / Jon Raskin, India Cooke, Carla Kihlstedt, Myles Boisen, and Gino Robair|
|February 8||Wadada Leo Smith, Marco Eneidi, Alec Ramsdell, Damon Smith, Spirit / Wadada Leo Smith's N'DA Kulture|
|February 15||Matthew Goodheart and Garth Powell / Matthew Ostrowski|
|February 22||Karen Stackpole's Euphonics / JOB|
|March 1||Biggi Vinkeloe, Miya Masaoka, George Cremaschi and Gino Robair / The Unmusical Rivets (Beanbender's hosts)|
|March 8||Georg Graewe solo, and with Gino Robair and Tim Perkis|
|March 15||Invisible: Larry Ochs, John Schott, Trevor Dunn, Scott Amendola / Eugene Chadbourne's Insect & Western Ensemble|
|March 22||Henry Kaiser's "Peter and the Wolf" / Evan Ziporyn|
|March 29||Gino Robair / Toychestra / Gamelan Sekar Jaya|
|April 5||Scott Looney; with Aaron Bennett, Adam Lane, and Tom Nunn / Offramp|
|April 12||RedHanded Trio: India Cooke, Lisle Ellis, and Donald Robinson.|
|April 19||Marco Eneidi's American Jungle Orchestra present William Butler Yeats's play Deirdre, directed by Jessica Loos / Loren MazzaCane Connors, with Bruce Anderson, Henry Kaiser, and Marc Weinstein.|
|April 26||Gianni Gebbia, solo, and with Tim Perkis, Tom Nunn, Graham Connah, and Gino Robair / Jonathan Lethem and John Schott's 1001 Noirs, with Jenny Scheinman, Dan Plonsey and Dan Seamans.|
|May 3||024c (not to foresee) James Livingston, Tom Swafford, Loren Dempster; with guests Gino Robair and Bill Hsu / Ben Goldberg, John Schott, and Trevor Dunn|
|May 10||Rich Halley and the Lizard Bros / Shoko Hikage, Phil Gelb, Ben Goldberg, and Carla Kihlstedt|
|May 17||Dave Slusser's Ellington project / Compomicro-dexall: Jake Rodriguez, Jeremy Stone, Mike Guarino|
|May 19||The Clusone Trio: Han Bennink, Ernst Reijseger, and Michael Moore|
|May 31||Circular Firing Squad: David Kwan, Eva Baumgartner, Xopher Davidson, Tim Walters, electronics / Bob Boster Faces Circular Firing Squad|
|June 7||Roscoe Mitchell: solo, and with Steve Adams, Jon Raskin, Dan Plonsey, Ben Goldberg, Tom Yoder, Joe Karten, John Schott, Randy Porter, Carla Kihlstedt, Dan Seamans, Ward Spangler, Oluyemi Thomas, Ijeoma Thomas, Tim Perkis.|
|June 16||Gerry Hemingway Quartet, with Ray Anderson, Ellery Eskelin and Mark Dresser|
|June 21||Gebhard Ullmann's Tá Lam 10|
|June 28||Matthew Sperry and Carla Kihlstedt / John Butcher and Gino Robair|
|July 5||Ben Opie and friends / Bilge: Eric Glick Rieman, keyboards; David Mairs, drums; David Slusser, theremin, slussomatic, saxophone, samples; Len Paterson, samples, guitar; Robin Walsh, guitar.|
|July 12||SPORK: Christa Williams, keyboards and assorted noises; Roger Reidlebauer, guitar, effects; Eddie X, drums / Steuart Liebig, with Vinny Golia and Billy Mintz|
|July 19||Supermarky and The Sexy Fuckers: Chris Maher, Peter Josheff, Randy Porter, Toyoshi Tomita, Sarah Willner, and Dan Plonsey / CMU / Sepecu|
|July 26||Dan Plonsey Ensemble: Carla Kihlstedt, Jenny Scheinman, Tom Swafford, Samantha Black, Ashley Adams, Tom Yoder, Randy Porter, and Mantra Ben-Ya'akova.|
|August 2||Positive Knowledge: Oluyemi Thomas, Ijeoma Thomas, Spirit, and special guest, Tim Perkis / Steve Horowitz's Mousetrap: Dan Plonsey, Dave Revelli, Wiley Evans|
|August 5||Ben Goldberg's Brainchild, with: Steve Adams, Dan Plonsey, Jacob Lindsay, reeds; John Schott and Will Bernard, guitars; Graham connah, piano; Carla Kihlstedt, violin; David Ewell (sp?), bass; Smith Dobson Jr., drums; and Jewlia Eisenberg and Brenda Boykin, voice|
|August 6||Ben Goldberg's Brainchild, with: Personnel more-or-less the same as above, plus Mantra Ben-Ya'akova, voice|
|August 9||Myra Melford, solo piano|
|August 16||Steve Lew Quartet: with Tom Yoder, trombone; Dan Plonsey, clarinets; Wes Anderson, percussion; and Lew, bass / Low Birthweight, featuring Dave Tohir|
|August 23||Sangha Trio / Amy Denio, solo, and with: Steve Lew, Carla Kihlstedt, Dan Plonsey|
|August 29||Line Duet: Chris Jonas & Dan Plonsey|
|August 30||Dan Plonsey's Disaster Opera Theatre: with Chris Jonas, Tom Dambley, Tom Swafford, Samantha Black, Mantra Ben-Ya'akova, Susan Volkan, Nancy Clarke, and Cleveland Plonsey / Chris Jonas new compositions and Line Duets|
|September 6||Myles Boisen Guitar Trio, with John Finkbeiner and Mark Schifferli / Miguel Frasconi (sampler) / Mark Growden (winds) / Ron Thompson (7 & 8-string guitars) / Neil Straghalis|
|September 13||Frank Pahl / Eugene Chadbourne Insect & Western Ensemble, with Jeff Kaiser, Dan Plonsey, Ashley Adams and Garth Powell|
|September 20||Barre Phillips, solo bass / Matthew Shipp and William Parker|
|September 27||Kattt, Tom Nunn, Doug Carroll and Tim Perkis / Chris Brown, Jab, and John Ingle|
|October 4||Henry Kuntz solo, and with Tim Perkis / Matthew Goodheart|
|October 11||Homophlegm / Moe! Staiano, Tom Scandura, Ches Smith, Michael DeLaCuesta|
|October 18||Compomicro-Dexall: Chris Broderick, Mike Guarino, Jake Rodriguez / Greg Goodman, George Cremaschi, Garth Powell.|
|October 23||Daxophones meet Saxophones with Mark Stewart, Evan Ziporyn, Dan Plonsey, and Pamela Z.|
|November 1||OPEYE / Paul Hoskins|
|November 2||Tina Marsh and the Creative Opportunity Orchestra|
|November 8||Yasuhiro Otani / Wet Gate / Dean Santomieri, with Bruce Anderson, Karen Stackpole, David Kwan|
|November 15||The Splatter Trio|
|November 21||A Tribute to Glenn Spearman, with Marco Eneidi, Spirit, G-FORCE, Donald Robinson, JD Parran, Chris Brown, ROVA, Lisle Ellis, Jim Routhier, William Winant, Matthew Goodheart, Musa Physics, Oluyemi Thomas, Don Paul, The American Jungle Orchestra, Jack Foley, Ben Lindgren, Ijeoma Thomas, Kash Killion, Vinnie Golia, The Double Trio, Jasper Baker and Ahmad Spearman, performing the music and writings of Glenn Spearman.|
|November 22||Pauline Oliveros, Dana Reason, & Phil Gelb / Crib / Species Being|
|November 29||Paul Plimley solo, and with Scott Amendola|
|December 6||Jack Wright / Kaffe Matthews / Georg Graewe Quartet, with Frank Gratkowski, Kent Kessler, and Hamid Drake|
This was one of OPEYE's best Beanbender's shows! They started by all playing gamelan instruments for about five minutes, like five uncoordinated figures from the inside of five of the those giant clocks you see in Europe; the ones where some elaborate scene is staged on the hour, with gremlins and the like banging away. The weird and ridiculous costumes added to the effect. Then the usual movement through the instruments followed: Henry Kuntz playing his loud double-reed musette thingy, his tenor sax, tiny violin, more gamelan, etc., while John Kuntz played a tiny electric uke(?), and a few other string things, Brian Godchaux played viola and electric 5-string mandolin, Esten Lindgren played trumpet and trombone (sometimes both at once) and drumset too, and Ben Lindgren play doublebass. The sound was a little better than usual, due to Godchaux being amplified much of the time. The dynamics of the group and its aesthetic were also quite clear: Henry is usually in the foreground regardless of instrument, he makes the most soloistic statements (while abstract and noisy, his phrasing, articulation and attitude placing these statements within the general context established by Coltrane), while John Kuntz and Brian Godchaux form a middle-ground not entirely unlike Keith Richards and Ron Woods: they play off one other, trading tiny lead lines, and while neither is really repetive (though grooves pop up frequently, they're submerged quickly), connecting strongly (if a bit abstractly) to each other and to a lesser degree with the other strata. Meanwhile, Esten functions as a sort of secondary solo voice, rarely moving past Henry to the foreground, he's a sort of shadow figure. Ben's role is to form a firm background, his bass lines are highly rhythmic, minor-pentatonic (again, touching on Trane's legacy), and are structured with a drummer's sense of repetition and slow development. I must admit, it's taken me a while to appreciate Ben's minimal approach, but I think I've finally come around to it: it works very well as compliment and foil to the complex and skittery upper layers of OPEYE.
Here are a couple pictures of OPEYE, taken by Moe! Staiano:
A few members of the audience had to leave during this set, but not necessarily because they couldn't take it: a couple guys with Grateful Dead jackets surprised me by leaving - they'd seemed to be way into the music - but then they returned five minutes later: presumably the music had created a need for internal balancing of chemicals.
Jack Wright and Matthew Sperry opened with a series of improvs, good stuff. Wright turned in some energetic and athletic blowing, while Sperry, more laid back, did his thing of exploring different sounds on the bass, bowed, plucked or prepared.
Jon Raskin's new quintet played four pieces, capped by a dynamic closer titled "Third Pass to Nowhere." That one started with a Carla Kihlstead unaccompanied solo (always a treat), full of melodic twists and her trademark bowed/pizzacato combination move. Next, the band joined in and India Cooke took her solo -- a different style, more sweeping and a great change of pace. Towards the end, Myles Boisen soloed on a double-necked guitar/fretless bass, sifting through his electronic pedal effects so much that at one point he stopped actually playing and just kept clicking the pedals at his feet, which got a good laugh from the band. The crowd loved the band and especially loved "Third Pass." The compositions (presumably by Raskin) provided lots of space for stretching out solos. Between the strong writing and strong playing, I'm hoping this group sticks together for lots more performances.
-- Craig Matsumoto
I know enough about "The Music" (why does everyone talk like it's in capital letters? Is it Holy or sumpin'??) to know that I'm Supposed to Go See Leo Smith. And now he's Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith, which is fine by me: I'm a big fan of Moby Dick. And what's even better, Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith is an incredible trumpet player!! Thank you, whoever it was who told me to Go See this one Particle of the Wave that comprises The Music! It was worth it for that trumpet. Also, Oluyemi Thomas was back on the second half, and he got the spotlight for an equally incredible bass clarinet solo. He kept hammering at this one note, going away and then coming back to it, and he could hit it louder than I've ever heard anyone hit on a clarinet. I thought the wood would crack!
The first half of the concert was okay sound-wise, but they didn't seem to know how to end any of their improvisations, and I thought that the younger guys (piano and bass) played too much. What they played was good, but they just played it at the wrong times. They should have let IWLS play unaccompanied when he came in as he did like a hurricane. The second half began with that great trumpet sound, just with a little piano accompaniment (again, that it didn't need, any more than a hamburger needs mustard). Then they played one long suite that went into a sort of Miles Davis 70s thing a couple times, led by the same Mr. Henry Kaiser who I, well, I really didn't appreciate last time around, shall we say, but this time he actually played some Very Nice Guitar Licks, except that at one point he decided to see what it would be like to play louder than the entire band, with the predictable results: me wanting to walk out - but I was pinned there like a bug and couldn't. But as I said, he did play some things of The Music that made up for at least Some of the Discomfort.
Well, I had an excellent time playing! I got to play oboe! I have a tape, and if it sounds good, I'll let you all hear it! Here are three pictures, all taken by Michael Zelner:
Biggi's set was not always greater than the sum of the parts, but that's probably because of how great the individual parts are! Gino sounded as fresh as ever - I noticed that his first entrance - somehow shocking and surprising - lit up Biggi's face. Miya and George too were as fantastic as ever. Perhaps it was that Biggi herself took a while to relax - she hadn't played with Gino before, and presumably hasn't much with George or Miya either, and sometimes one must build a little trust first. Anyway, she seemed a bit "classical" for a while - a tight and controlled sound, mostly uninflected - a sound to which I don't easily respond - so maybe it was I who had to relax... The last three pieces (two on flute and one on alto) were really very enjoyable though; it felt like the personalities were finally meshing, and the music was at last an ensemble music rather than four simultaneous voices. And Biggi seemed more comfortable on the flute, with more sonic flexability, able to move much more freely - the previous pieces had very little development; the sound worlds remained static from beginning to end.
He plays soooooo fast! I loved it! And I was bored, almost unto death! The second set with Robair and Perkis was much more like Music. They all listened to each other, and made their parts fit together. Excellent dovetailing! Which reminds me - I'm looking for a good carpenter to teach me how to build shelves! Right now all my books are in boxes, or being used to keep my desk (a former door) up. - Holtzman
Judged on a basis of population, this was Beanbender's biggest or second biggest show ever (the rival is the solo Fred Frith show): 250 people were crammed into a space with only about 140 chairs! And, we (the crew) agreed, about the best night of music one could ever expect for $5!
Gino started things off with a solo percussion improvisation in which he shuffled and sorted through a suitcase of sticks, toys, wood, and cymbals; occasionally pausing to play with one or two items at a time. After a while, he began building a precarious structure of wood with one hand while beating on junk with his other hand. When it finally collapsed, the piece ended. Almost an anti-drum solo, I liked it very much, though visibility was a bit poor!
Toychestra is great! I hope they will always be as fresh when the inevitable happens and they begin to learn to play their instruments! Plastic recorders, toy violins, keyboards, gorillas, and noisemakers of all description are employed in presenting a series of two minute songs which often utilize pop and Latin rhythms and structures. A few songs actually have words; my favorite was the one where Lexa sang a series of nonsense(?) words, first unaltered, and then through a sort of toy megaphone. Other hits were a sort of rhumba, and a song with lots of doo-wop "shoops," both of which still echoe around in my head! Their set was also just the right length; not at all too much of a good thing.
Gamelan Sekar Jaya played what was for them an unusual set, utilizing instruments from four (or more?) contexts, plus a bunch of bird calls, water-bubblers, and rocks. They performed two pieces by their guest director, I Made Arnawa, a piece for a sextet of bamboo instruments, and one traditional piece for the four-note gamelan angklung. All four pieces were amazing, but my favorites were I Made Arnawa's "Daybreak" which employed the water-bubbler, bird calls (including Gino's turkey call!) and rocks in addition to instruments from several different gamelans; and a very loud and virtuosic piece for six people playing bamboo instruments.
Celebrating his new solo CD on Rastascan, Gebbia played several of the pieces from the recording, but with greater freedom - veering away from his intricate polyphony into wilder, entirely un-patterned digressions, giving the pieces fresh excitement. At the very beginning of the set, Gebbia had to make some adjustments for his saxophone whose leakiness was giving him some trouble, but these uncertainties were barely noticable, and in fact probably pushed him into a more exploratory mode of operations. In the second set, Gebbia demonstrated how well he can modulate his aesthetic to work within groups. Highlights were a duet with Connah, in which each musician anticipated the harmonic movement of the other with amazing prescience, and a duet with Robair in which the latter's clatter was the perfect foil for especially cluttered playing by Gebbia. Nunn and Perkis were ideal choices for this music as well, both knowing well how to move between the foreground and the background; in this set they provided much of the continuity for the group.
Some people love Jonathan Lethem's words for this project, others don't - I think this group would go over best with a crowd with less of a musical perspective on the role of language than at Beanbender's! I always enjoy finding a musical counterpoint to words, and Jonathan makes it easy by writing material in which the listener must assemble the narrative (if they wish) from a set of fragments. When the narrative is more monolithic (as in "Martyr and Pesky"), John Schott has written a sort of soundtrack, so that the music takes on its film-world's background/mood-setting role, and that works well too, provided that Jonathan and the band are sufficiently rehearsed! In this performance (not having played together in over a year), we attempted to stretch against the bounds (Jonathan changing some lines, the musicians changing some tempos), with uncertain results, but the process was a lot of fun!
I enjoyed each of these groups. Both set a mood, and managed to find a lot to say within the realm they chose to explore. 024c used the Oblique Strategies cards employed by Brian Eno for inspiration, yet (as they admitted) the strategies were hardly necessary, being as they tend to be among those already at the fingertips of most veteran improvisors, as 024c certainly are. Their music is one in which the individuals leave a lot of space for one another, making relatively short excursions to the fore, then moving back to allow others to make statements. If I have a complaint about the direction of this particular set, it would be that the discourse was too reasonable, and - other than a conspicuous out-of-the-blue romantic violin solo by Swafford, which was quite a highlight - lacking in maniacal risk-taking. Nonetheless, very listenable and satisfying music; it left me composing in my head.
Goldberg, Schott and Dunn took for their launching pad a set of music by Goldberg, some brand new, some written for other contexts. Goldberg's writing is in the tradition of Monk, Nichols, and perhaps Lacy and Ornette too, in that he uses as his smallest building blocks melodic modules which are combined together into phrases which then in turn are combined with other, contrasting, phrases to make a work which is more a mobile of loosely jostling parts than a song (though, curiously, he announces his works as songs). Like Monk, Goldberg enjoys building phrases that seem to anticipate a cliche at their conclusion, only to substitute an odd interval just at the last moment, however in Goldberg's hands this technique results in a music which is equivocal than it is melancholy. Without the mitigating presence of a drummer, the music had leave to really steep in this mood - every nuance of Goldberg's clarinet tone was in tune somehow with the melodic movement: I noticed this especially in one piece (perhaps "Nine Phrases for (?)" - I'll try to determine the title) in which one of the first phrases is bult upon three low notes which cycle quickly several times before opening into the rest of the melodic cell... A feeling of sad, resignation as compulsiveness was reinforced by Goldberg's especially gritty, wooden sound (having just seen two of the other top clarinetists in this music, Marty Ehrlich and Michael Moore, I can testify that Goldberg's sound is the deepest, darkest, and dirtiest; shunning entirely the range of dog-like feigned cheeriness and slickitude which resulted in the clarinet being banished for so long from jazz). Meanwhile, John Schott was his usual steady self on guitar, his dedication to the details of sound and harmony quite apparent: he seems to measure out the stroke of each chord as carefully as he chooses the voicing - and yet there is also a sort of nihilist humor lurking not far under the surface which propels his solos through particularly knotty shapes as (like Goldberg) he consciously rejects any easy conclusion. While Goldberg and Schott work almost exclusively in an equal-tempered world in this trio (that is, eschewing even the pitch inflections common in most jazz), thereby keeping the focus on intervallic relationships in, and as a commentary on, melody - Trevor Dunn opened up another dimension by playing with intonation a bit on bass - his tone is low and even muddy at times, and he uses lots of broken octaves and near-octaves; ultimately functioning as tuned percussion. Also, Dunn's rhythms fell into cracks - he often implied a different tempo, a changing tempo, or a non-tempo, by accompanying the others with staggering, bumpy and leaping lines; his sense of irregular not-quite-balanced melody in contrast to Schott and Goldberg's, yet somehow the particular contrast working to put their music up upon a set of mismatched little wheels, keeping the relatively somber, static, and heavy guitar/clarinet thing from grinding into the ground. The absence of a drummer revealed just how superfluous a drummer can be - or at least how well the drummer's role can be absorbed by a sensitive musician on another instrument.
Here's the set list that Ben told Michael Zoka after the set:
1. Triangle Dot Circle
5. Circle Circle
6. Blue Umbrella
It was wonderful to finally see han Bennink, and to watch him play the drums by attaching a string to his hi-hat and pull it from the front row of the audience. They played mostly (all?) songs with references to birds, including "When the red red robin comes bob bob bobbin' along." I like Michael Moore's alto sax tone very much. I only wish they had improvised more! Most of the set was tunes, sandwiched together with little bits of improv, which Bennink often used (and Moore too) as time for comedy. And I like comedy, but, well, I got the impression that in some sense there wasn't so much at stake this evening,; we could all just have a fun time.
Playing with Roscoe Mitchell was a great thrill - he's been one of the biggest and mnost inescapable influences upon my music: starting with the honking sound, the subtle and un-subtle play with intonation, the Rollins-esque search for a peculiar little phrase upon which to obsess through repetition and exaggeration, etc. In conversation, he presented himself as a very straightforward student of music, uninterested in teaching because he feels he has so much he wants to learn (he's focussing on studying the bass recorder and baroque flute). He has a strenuous practice regimen which begins early in the morning with playing scales slowly for an hour or two.
The concert went very well, and the pieces which Roscoe Mitchell brought along, arrangements of two recent compositions for the particular ensemble at hand - were quiet, slow and beautiful.
Oh hell, I liked it, I liked it a lot!
- Eff Jay
What fine, fine, fine, fine, fine music Ms. Kihlstedt and Mr. Sperry have made on this occasion! After a slightly tentative first piece, the rest of the set was really as good as the best music we've had at Beanbender's! I will not say more; you will have to see them some day for yourselves.
Mr. Robair and Mr. Butcher were not to be outdone; they too played exquisitely. I noticed that Butcher's approach was, on both the level of form and of texture, free-er and more impressionistic than on his previous Bay Area outings (due partly to previously playing solo mostly); somehow all aspects of his playing came together for me on this occasion into a very appealing organic whole. As always, he had more sounds in his pallette than any saxophonist I know, and he invented about three new techniques on the spot! Very fresh, yet still with a sense of order which is not sentimental, but always warm and despite it's prickly surface of rattly multiphonics engaging and inviting, like a big garden of bamboo and daisies. Gino found just the right sticks, sounds and humor to egg John on. A perfect collaboration.
What a great bunch of string players we have in the East Bay! I want to write more and more for them!
I like keys, I like these two sets, but I do not love them. I want to hear some dirt dirt dirt, but I don't. I do hear some clean clean dirt, but that's not the same thing. A bit faint, you see. Still, there's much to hear: some juice, some bone, some blood... but where's the fat? These sounds are thin. I like fat sounds! A lot of the notes come off of sheets that she reads: is that what's wrong? Could be part of the tale, but there's more - that is, there's less. It ends, and I need to eat but bad! These sounds do not fill me up; they make me starve! I need FOOD! I go with my pals to snack on ribs. Then when I am full, I think back to the sounds, and (now full), like them. They were pale green sounds, and not a shade of dye you see all the time...
- Eff Jay
Steve Lew writes cool tunes! I like. These guys play well, and it's fun, and you can laugh if you want. It's swell, and it's down and it's weird too. All told, one big yes to Steve Lew and his bugs! Set two: drones and bones. Fine for a bit, fine for a while. When they're done, I go home, and I am not at all sad.
- Eff Jay
Amy's solo set was great. I think her music comes across best in person - it just seems to suit her so well, and her movements and expressions add much. She played a solo sax piece and then three or four pieces each for bass and voice, guitar and voice, and accordion and voice. She has an iodosyncratic approach to each instrument. I especially like her banjo-style finger-picking on the bass. All alone, pieces which I'd heard for bands sounded so much better somehow - mostly that the minimal arrangement (one intrument) stressed the quirks of her music - the odd rhythms sounded odd, the strange modulations were strange, which is as it should be!
Playing with Amy was a lot of fun, and very easy because from the beginning she used her sense of humor as an organizational tool. Though she was the visitor, she played like a sensitive and jovial host, interacting with each of us and following our moods with attentiveness and wittiness. A duet between Amy and carla was a high point. They must collaborate more in the future!
Barre Phillips played an exceptionally elegant set in which the dynamic level was often very quiet - and the capacity audience appropriately hushed. He moved from one sound-world to the next: bowing multiphonics on a single string suddenly giving way to washing the bow across the face of the instrument; using the body of the bass to tap out polymetrical patterns suddenly incorporating strums of half-stopped strings... I noticed that much of the time at least two things were happening at once, e.g., the tapping of the bow on strings produced a second tone, much higher and softer than the fundamental tone, and plucking strings with one hand while tapping with the other. Very deliberate, and yet at the same time incorporating great spontaneity. His use of the bow was sometimes like that of a master of some obscure martial art or ceremonial practice. At one point, after brandishing the bow a bit he slid it down the length of the neck, parallel to the neck, until the the tip of the bow collided with the bridge in a quiet but resonant "tock." At another point, he suddenly thrust the handle of the bow into the strings like an assassin's dagger into an unwitting victim. Most of us gasped.
William Parker and Matthew Shipp followed this set of intricate detail with a 75-minute uninterrupted single improvisation which came from a very different world. Shipp employed thick left hand chords alternating with short strings of repeated notes in his right, in general treating the piano as a percussion instrument, except for a few references to tunes which were harmonized thickly and dissonantly including "Summertime," which came perhaps 20 minutes into the set, and marked the first moment at which Parker and Shipp played together in any obvious way. Much of the time each was in his own pulse and his own world, though as the set went on and I focussed more and more on Parker, I could hear his response (as though grudgingly) to changes in Shipp's playing. There were some beautiful sections, as when Shipp plucked notes inside the piano, and the last ten minutes or so in which Shipp slowly ascended and descended a gapped scale in the bass while Parker played arco way up above.
First set: just a bass, naught else. Five strings, though. He starts with a long gaze at all of us. We gaze back. Plays a few notes with no thought, just some twangs. At last turns to the bass, and plays and plays, goes from one place to the next, takes his time. Real cool! A slow, soft dance of bass. Zen bass: the sound of a bow on the air. Set two: Bass plus Keys. Crash bang whiz! But... does Keys hear Bass? Sounds like he does not. Does Bass hear Keys? Not at first; for a long time each whangs and bams to his own pulse, but then, when Keys starts in on dumb tin pan quote, Bass makes fun. Some nice bits, but it's a long set! The bowed bass cries and cries: Where's Mom? Where's Dad? But Keys just don't give a S--t. Keys is gone! And I am too: gone to go to sleep.
- Eff Jay
I had fun. All the solo pieces sounded great (we each played one), and the second last group improv was wonderful!
I missed Hoskins and the first 10-15 minutes of Opeye, but what I saw was some of Opeye's best music yet! The strata I noted in my last review (of Opeye's January 11, 1998 show) were even more distinct on this occasion. This band really makes a peculiar kind of sense, and you gotta see them - and lots of times too!
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